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Use this page to search our collection of educationally-useful geologic field guides and road logs in Montana and Yellowstone. You may search the database by entering a keyword to search or choosing one of the listed terms for geologic topic, geographic location, or geologic province.


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Field Guide, Little Belt Mountains part of MT Field Guides
This field guide extends from Monarch to Utica across the northeastern portion of the Little Belt Mountains. The trip, via Hughesville, Yogo Peak and the Yogo sapphire mines, provides an overview of Laramide igneous activity in the Little Belt Mountains of central Montana. The mountains were formed as a large anticline in the Late Cretaceous to late Paleocene or earliest Eocene. The forceful intrusions in the Little Belt Mountains by felsic, hence viscous magmas, contrast sharply with the low-viscosity, basic, alkaline extrusives in the Highwood Mountains to the north.

Topics: Surficial geology, Resources, Fossils, Structures, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

A Traverse Across the Northern Belt Basin From East Glacier Park, Montana to Bonners Ferry, Idaho part of MT Field Guides
This field guide examines differences between three segments of the Belt Basin along an east-west transect from East Glacier Park, Montana to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Each segment is characterized not only by its structural style, but also by the suite of Belt rocks that comprise it. The easternmost segment consists of the Lewis thrust plate and associated thrusts as far west as Columbia Falls, Montana where it is terminated by the Rocky Mountain trench. This segment contains eastern Belt facies including: Altyn, Appekunny, Grinnell and Helena (Siyeh), Snowslip, Shepard, Mount Shields and McNamara formations. Fine sediments in these rocks, probably derived from a western continental source terrane, were deposited adjacent to the stable North American craton, where they were mixed with smaller amounts of coarse sand derived from an inferred coarse sand sheet that mantled the crystalline craton. The central segment extends from the Rocky Mountain trench to the Libby thrust system. It is characterized by broad, open folds that expose Belt rocks of the central part of the basin, including a thick section of Prichard, Burke, Revett, St. Regis, Empire, Wallace and Helena formations. These rocks are composed mostly of argillite, carbonate and fine-grained quartzite. The western segment includes the Libby thrust and Leonia fault system. It extends as far west as the Purcell trench. Exposed in this area are rocks from the Prichard through the Missoula Group. Rocks of the Ravalli Group and the Wallace Formation contain more fine-to medium-grained quartzite than those of the central segment, reflecting a western source. However, the Missoula Group rocks are finer grained and more calcareous than those of the type area, indicating that late in the Middle Proterozoic the western source terrane probably subsided and that the basin center shifted westward.

Topics: Surficial geology, Structures, Fossils, Metamorphic rocks, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

A Traverse Across the Eastern Belt Basin From Neihart to Townsend, Montana part of MT Field Guides
This road log focuses on Precambrian (Proterozoic) sedimentary rock deposited in the Helena embayment of the eastern Belt basin. It also includes a general description of the geology between exposures of Proterozoic strata, briefly describing occurrences of Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks, Paleozoic sedimentary rocks, and Tertiary igneous rocks. A stratigraphic column is provided for refeference.

Topics: Surficial geology, Fossils, Structures, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Guide to the Chrome Mountain Area part of MT Field Guides
The Chrome Mountain area lies at nearly 10,000-feet elevation in the west-central part of the Stillwater Complex between the main part of the Boulder River and the headwaters of the East Boulder River. At Chrome Mountain, the olivine +/- bronzite +/- chromite cumulates of the Ultramafic Series are relatively well exposed and stratigraphically broadly resemble those at Mountain View. In addition, a distinctive rock type occurs: a fine-grained dunite which appears to have formed as a replacement of the ultramafic cumulates.

Topics: Igneous rocks, Metamorphic rocks, Resources
Geographic Location: Southwest Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

Field Guide; Belt Butte and Tiger Butte part of MT Field Guides
This field trip extends east from Great Falls across rolling glacial plains to the summit of Belt Butte, where its formation and the collapse structure adjacent to it will be discussed. In addition, the Tiger Butte laccolithic intrusion, contact metamorphic effects, associated dikes, and structure resulting from the intrusion will be examined.

Topics: Fossils, Hazards, Resources, Surficial geology, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

Field Guide; Little Rocky Mountains part of MT Field Guides
This fieldtrip examines deformed Paleozoic sedimentary rocks on the margins of the Little Rocky Mountains, Tertiary intrusive rocks (porphyrys, magmatic-hydrothermal breccias, and dikes), and associated mineralization.

Topics: Fossils, Resources, Structures, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

Field Guide; Little Rocky Mountains part of MT Field Guides
This fieldtrip examines deformed Paleozoic sedimentary rocks on the margins of the Little Rocky Mountains, Tertiary intrusive rocks (porphyrys, magmatic-hydrothermal breccias, and dikes), and associated mineralization.

Topics: Metamorphic rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

A Traverse Across the Central Belt Basin From Bowmans Corner, Montana to East Hope, Idaho part of MT Field Guides
This road log highlights a variety of sedimentary rock types and structures along a transect of the Rocky Mountain Fold and Thrust Belt. The log follows Montana Highway 200, which crosses the central part of the Middle Proterozoic Belt basin from the Montana disturbed belt to Missoula, where it turns northwesterly into northern Idaho, traversing rocks of the western and northwestern Belt basin. The road log begins east of the Rocky Mountain front in the disturbed belt underlain by soft, Cretaceous shale and somewhat more resistant sandstone units. Next, the road log passes into the eastern thrust belt where thrust faults bring Belt rocks first over Cretaceous, then over Paleozoic rocks, and finally over Proterozoic rocks farther to the west. At Rogers Pass, the route crosses the Continental Divide and into the Ovando block where Cenozoic listric normal faults form the major structures. The leading edge of the western thrust belt is encountered at Bonner, MT. From Missoula, Highway 200 trends northwestward to northern Idaho and diagonally crosses the western part of the Belt basin. Changes in grain-size and sediment type observable from outcrops along this road log illustrate the evolution of sedimentary transport and facies tracts within the central part of the Belt basin.

Topics: Surficial geology, Structures, Fossils, Metamorphic rocks, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

The Hebgen Lake Earthquake Area, Montana and Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
Several high-angle normal faults bounding the west front of the Madison Range north of Hebgen Lake, recurrently active during much of Neogene time, reactivated catastrophically on August 7, 1959. Faulting was accompanied by largest historic earthquake within the Intermountain Seismic Belt. Unusual geologic features were formed–spectacular fault scarps, a large landslide, a deformed lake basin (Hebgen Lake), and a new lake (Earthquake Lake)–each of which demonstrates the destructive power of a large eathquake. These features are described in the context of the bedrock geology in this field guide.

Topics: Hazards, Surficial geology, Structures, Sedimentary rocks, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: Southwest Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

A Study in Contrasts: Archean and Quaternary Geology of the Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
Nowhere in the U.S. are the oldest and the most recent aspects of geology as spectacularly displayed as along the Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth Mountains are a block of largely Archean bedrock uplifted along high-angle reverse faults of Laramide age. The Precambrian rocks (3400-700 Ma) contain one of the best records of the early history of the igneous and metamorphic basement of the middle Rocky Mountains. These rocks include granulite-facies supracrustal rocks proposed as products of continental collision, calc-alkaline volcanic and plutonic rocks generated along an Archean continental margin, and mafic dikes some of which were emplaced during continental rifting. This Precambrian record encompasses at least two extensive periods of crustal evolution and records more geologic history at one location than any other place in the Wyoming Province. Descriptions of two key areas showing the fundamental relations between the Precambrian rocks are included: the Quad Creek area and the Long Lake area. The Beartooth Plateau has been extensively sculpted by glacial processes during the Pleistocene. The highway crosses a classic locality of "biscuit-board topography"–plateau remnants partially dissected by cirques–as well as deposits left by glaciers that etched the plateau. Features to be seen include glacio-fluvial terraces showing downstream effects of the glacial system and extensive areas of periglacial features that postdate glaciation. Glacial features are described from the Red Lodge area, Rock Creek Canyon, the hairpin turns, the Beartooth Plateau, and the Clark Fork basin.

Topics: Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks, Surficial geology, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

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